Well here I go again. This time we venture to the southern hemisphere. The trip and stories will take us to Argentina. We will tango in buenos aires, ride horses with the Gaucho's in the Pampas, then hike, climb, and repel the waterfall in Iguazu Falls. Connectivity is limited, so these emails will be in groups and short. Upon my return the blogger will be updated with the complete stories.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Lets start with my early morning arrival in Buenos Aires. As we are nearing the airport, the pilot announces 0% visibility. Oh boy. Just what I was hoping for, instrument landing. It went perfect. The reason for this is because of the smoke in BA. Apparently the farmers on the outskirts of town were burning the old sugar cane. The winds were pushing smoke over Buenos Aires. It was thick, stinging your eyes, nose and throat. I took the local bus to the main bus station downtown then to my hotel. We stayed at a small 2 star hotel right down the street from all the main areas to visit, so we were able to walk everywhere. I met up with Fred and Alex. 2 of the 6 traveling companions. We walked down to Peru and Florida ave (the shopping steets. Walked to a local café for a quick lunch then to the Mariott to take a bus tour around the southern part of the city. The key area was San Telmo which is where the multicolored buildings, cafes, and street tango dancers are. After that we headed back to change for dinner and the Tango Show. Dinner was at the famous Café Tortoni, then bussed over to El Viejo Almacen for a fabulous show in San Telmo. Wow. We know nothing about Tango. A light snack then off to bed.
Well we made it through the overniight flight and being up all day yesterday and up late last night at the show. Today we slept in. Had a nice bfast in the hotel, then headed out to find a local supermarket for bottle water. While walking around the city, we came across 3 locations where they were shooting a movie. Which was interesting. I'm still trying to find a little boutique for a tango dress. In the afternoon (Sunday) we took another city tour again to San Telmo and to Ricoleto. We visited several open air markets. LOTS of shopping here. So the prices here are $75 Pesos = $25 US dollar. There are some really great deals. Glad I brought an extra suitcase. We ate again tonight at Café Tortoni nd stayed for their Tango Show. Another night brought to a late close. Tomorrow on to San Antonio De Areco to an Argentenian Estanchia (Ranch) for 3 days of riding horses with the Gauchos. Night.
We all got together to meet the taxi early so we could get down to the BA bus station.This is like going to the Greyhound bus station but with almost aa 100 terminals and busses leaving and going every 15 min. It was a double decker and comfortable enough for the 2 hour ride to San Antonio de Areco. Upon arival we were met by 2 taxis. Well they don't understand americans and their luggage. It was a sight. We ended up cramming the people in the back seat (3) in each with the luggage in the trunk and front seat and our laps. We pack way too much. It took about 20 min down a dusty dirt rod to the El Ombre Estanchia (ranch). Just in time for lunch or the Asaido (barbq). Talk about food! I've never eaten so much beef, chicken & sausage in one sitting in my life. And the flavor..... Unbelievable. This was every day for lunch outside on the lawn. Bfast & dinner was in the dining room. Bfast was croissant, coffee, ham, cheese, honey & jam. Simple but good. Dinner was a normal meal like we do at home. Beer, wine, liquor & soda was included. The ranch had 8 room of various sizes with a shared pool (game) room and TV room. We watched the Penn primary and CSI Miami ! In english! Every day we rode the beautiful horses. They have well over 50 horses on their well over 1500 acres. All running free with the cattle and sheep. We would walk, trot,canter and based on you level haul butt galloping (my fav). There was so much clear pasture land that you could go and go. One morning as the sun rose and the mist lay over the land we went for a ride. I hope the pics came out. Same with the sunset rides. Great pics there too. We took one day and went back into town to do some shopping. Not much luck as we only had an hour before siesta and the shops closed mostly from 1:30 to 4:00pm. All in all it was a wonderful and enjoyable 3 days at the ranch with the Gauchos and Gauchas. We grabbed the bus again today (another story) and are now back in BA. Tomorrow an early flight to Iguazu Falls. It should be another experience and another story. G-night.
We are up again early today to catch our flight to Iguazu Falls. Takes about 2 hours by small plane from BA. We are met by our driver, Nadid who takes us the rest of the way to our hotel, 'Hotel das Cataratas'. What a trip. We star off with one vehicle (Argentine plates) about 1/2 way we have to change over to another vehicle (brazil plates) in order to continue into Brazil. We first stop at the border for passport check. We grab a few Reales ($) in case we need them. We continue on for few miles and now we have to go through immigration. The check all our passports and Visa's this time. Finally about 45 min later we are in brazil and only one more checkpoint to go. This one is entry into the park. There are only 2 hotels inside the park. Our hotel on the Brazilian side and the Sheraden on the Argentine side. The only 2 with views of the falls. Our hotel was a 5 star and beautiful but expensive. We immediately signed up for the Zodiak ride up the river to the base of the falls. Talk about white water rafting....only with an outboard motor. It was rough. The views spectacular and boy did we get soaked! One of the gus bought the dvd so hopfully I can share it later. The next morning we hiked the falls early in the morning to try to catch the sun rise. We saw many rainbows in the mist, even one complete one end to end down inside the 'Devils Throat'. After an early lunch our driver took us to our next excursion which was back over on the Argentian side. So, yes, back through all the stops and vehicles again. This time we were picked up by a giant 4X4 military transport vehicle. Taken several miles into the Argentine jungle where the military practices their survival skills. The road was extremely rough. Finally we stopped and hiked for another mile or two. Along the way our guide pointed out flora & fauna, what to eat, what not to, etc. We finally came to a clearing. It was time for our zipline lesson. We climbed up steps attached to a tree (about 40 ft up) then zipped to to more trees about 1000 ft apart. Lots of fun. Next was a short 4X4 drive, then hike again to a small cliff with waterfall. Now it was time to repel down the drenching, slimy, cliff face. Yes, soaked again! But what fun. Now wet and dripping we hiked back to the vehicle for our drive back to the hotel in Brazil. What an exhausting day but worth every minute! Tomorrow early back to BA for our last days in the country. Till then......
Back in Buenos Aires. Today we got here in enough time to headout from the hotel to Ricoleto. There we had lunch in a small café for the locals. Wow it was good. It used to be frequented by the race car drivers. We walked around the outdoor market looking at all the trinkets & trash. This area is filled with many people acting like statues, playing instruments, juggling, etc. A regular carnival atmosphere. We then headed to the most fameous cemetary. Once inside you cannot believe the immense mosoleums everywhere! Families from way back in the 1800's are buried. We looked down inside one to see caskets stacked upon caskets over 20 deep. We did find Evita's tomb. It's very popular. She is buried 27 feet down in a concrete bunker. This was done to keep people from stealing her body. Also, cats were everywhere! You must see the pics of these! After we did a little more shopping, back to the hotel to prepare for dinner & another Tango show. We found completely by accident a place called La Rosalia. A small restaurant in San Telmo where the steaks are HUGH! And tasty! The show at Sr. Tango was definitely a show performance but still the Tango dancers were fantasic! Finally back to the hotel and sleep. I think we are all going to sleep in tomorrow.....Night